Who Cares About Refinery Workers?

Welcome to Grid Brief!

Hello!Welcome to the first-ever newsletter from Grid Brief, your go-to for clear-eyed news on energy and the electrical grid. If you're a Nuclear Barbarians subscriber, then extra welcome--we've relocated here.

Today, we're looking at Russia's cessation of ammonia exports, Texas heading into another cold snap, solar crossing the 200 GW mark, China firing up its first fourth-generation nuclear reactor, the EPA restoring Obama-era rules, and more.


  • Biden to host Qatar’s leader in bid for Europe energy security. (Bloomberg)

  • Russia introduces export ban on ammonium nitrate for two months. (TASS)

  • For chip industry, global supply crunch pushes next target to $1 trillion. (WSJ)

  • US national debt tops $30 trillion as borrowing surged amid pandemic. (NYT)

  • Putin signals openness to diplomacy while blaming US for crisis. (NYT)


  • Big oil is quietly exploring for more crude. (OP)

  • As cities ban natural gas to cut emissions, Ontario is expanding its gas network. (CBC)

  • Exxon registers highest profit since 2014 after boost from oil and gas prices. (FT)

  • EPA moves to restore Obama-era rules on power plants. (WSJ)

  • Global warming effect of methane from US Permian draws fresh scrutiny. (FT)


  • High taxes on battery imports undermine India's renewable energy drive. (FT)

  • Illinois legislation focuses on increasing diversity in wind and solar projects. (SJR)

  • BloombergNEF says global solar will cross 200 GW mark for the first time this year, expects lower panel prices. (PVMag)

  • Ontario to witness the largest building-integrated photovoltaic wall in North America. (YF)

  • Italian wind developer Saipem in profit warning as margins deteriorate due to pandemic and rising costs. (OSW)


  • A bill would pave the way for nuclear power in Indiana. (Indy Star)

  • West Virginia lawmakers lift ban on building nuclear power plants in state. (WCHS)

  • Finland's new nuclear reactor now seen starting in early February. (Reuters)

  • China starts up first fourth-generation nuclear reactor. (POWER)

  • Fieldwork completed in milestone for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems SMR (WNN).


  • Greening California grid may cost $30.5 billion for power lines. (Bloomberg)

  • Texas leaders warn of possible local power outages as freezing weather approaches. (TXT)

  • EU commits $732 million first step in connecting Israel to European power grid. (JP)

  • Tantalus acquires Congruitive to accelerate the digitalization of the electric grid. (YF)

  • Telia’s Helsinki Data Center balances local electric grid. (RCR)

Who cares about refinery workers?

The labor left used to exist in America and it used to concern itself with people like oil refinery workers. These days, the American left is trying to kill fossil fuel jobs. That's a shame because these workers make our world possible. And there's a clutch of them in negotiations with oil companies right now. In fact, they just passed their strike deadline.

The talks between United Steelworkers Union (USW) and various oil companies, which includes some 30,000 refiners and chemical plant workers mostly in the California and Gulf Coast areas, began on January 13th. USW's bargaining contract program was set to expire yesterday. They were offered a 1% raise, which they described as insulting. The union next turned down a 9% raise over three years. They didn't stay home during the pandemic--they worked. And the companies they work for made profits in the tens of billions. Naturally, they feel they deserve a bigger slice of the pie.

The last time USW refinery workers went on strike was in 2015. There's some contention in the union about how that strike went. Some workers feel they got sold out and split up all so their dues could go to the "pork chops" working at USW HQ in Pittsburgh. Regardless, they do grueling, demanding, and necessary work. Right now, they've extended their contract another 24 hours and are sticking with talks before striking. I hope they get what they want and the negotiations resolve without a strike. No one wants still more turmoil in the energy sector right now.

Crom's Blessing

Here at Grid Brief, we value strength, reliability, and resilience. That's why we close every newsletter with something Crom might smile upon to inspire you. Today, it's Kirk Karwoski squatting a grand for a double. Enjoy.